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Vaccine. 2008 Sep 19;26(40):5170-6. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2008.03.070. Epub 2008 Apr 15.

HIV-1 reverse transcriptase artificially targeted for proteasomal degradation induces a mixed Th1/Th2-type immune response.

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WA Engelhardt Institute of Molecular Biology, Moscow, Russia.


Targeting of a DNA vaccine encoded protein for degradation via the proteasome is attempted since it may enhance the immunogenicity of the vaccine. We have fused HIV-1 reverse transcriptase (RT) to mouse ornithine decarboxylase (ODC), a protein rapidly degraded by proteasome in an ubiquitine-independent fashion, to enhance the introduction of RT into the MHC class I pathway. We also designed a fusion of RT with two short signals from the C-terminus of ODC (ODCsig) representing a minimal proteasome-targeting moiety of ODC (PEST signal). Fusion to ODC or ODC signal domain led to a marked enhancement of RT degradation. Plasmids encoding RT-ODC and RT-ODCsig chimera were used to immunize BALB/c mice. The administration of the plasmids was not associated with autoimmune disease. Moreover, mice receiving RT-ODCsig gene mounted a mixed Th1/Th2 response characterized by the in vitro secretion of IFN-gamma, IL-2, TNF-alpha, IL-4, and IL-10 upon stimulation of splenocytes with RT protein or RT derived peptides. Serum titers of 10(2) to 10(3) were observed in more than 50% of animals in that group, whereas fewer animals mounted an anti-RT response in the RT-ODC gene immunized group. Chimeras of the type described here can, therefore, be used in vaccinations aiming to induce HIV-1 RT-specific immune response.

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